World No.1 Angelique Kerber is into her first WTA final of the year – standing in her way for the title is three time Monterrey champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
(1) Angelique Kerber (No.1) vs (2) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (No.16)
Overview: Angelique Kerber is finally playing like a World No.1 again. After a rough start to 2017, she has played better this week, first a tough 4-6 6-0 6-4 battle against Francesca Schiavone. It was simpler for Kerber in her next two rounds, beating Mandy Minella with the loss of four games then defeated defending champion Heather Watson 6-4 6-4. A much tougher test came in the form of No.4 seed Carla Suarez Navarro in the semifinals, where she withstood a comeback from the Spaniard who came from 1-4 down to win the next four games. Kerber served for the match at 6-5, but failed to do so, however she managed to win the set in a tiebreaker. The second set was much easier, only losing one game to make her way into the final. It was Kerber’s first win over a Top 25 opponent, having been 0-7 against Top 35 opposition in the season.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has largely cruised into the Monterrey final, her biggest crisis only coming in the quarterfinals against Timea Babos. In the first two rounds, she beat Tatjana Maria and qualifier Kristie Ahn, then came out victorious in a 6-2 3-6 7-5 battle with Babos. It was breezy for Pavlyuchenkova in the semis, who scored a victory over Caroline Garcia with the loss of just six games.
Head to head: Kerber leads the rivalry 5-3, having won her three previous encounters with the Russian. However Pavlyuchenkova leads the HTH on hard courts 3-2.
Thoughts: Kerber generally plays well against Pavlyuchenkova, the Russian’s pace usually helps Kerber in redirecting the balls. The Russian can be erratic too, which is the case with big hitters. Interesting – When Pavlyuchenkova wins their matches, it has always gone three sets (one didn’t go three sets – but it went to two tiebreaker sets, around the same!). I think that a solid Kerber display will be able to pull out the win for her first tournament victory. However, Pavlyuchenkova has won the title thrice – she could just come out with the win! I’ll still go for the German, maybe in three.
Prediction: Kerber to defeat Pavlyuchenkova in three